We asked hip-hop experts what they thought of this rap tribute to Ted Cruz

This image was removed due to legal reasons.
This image was removed due to legal reasons.

This week, we are exploring the Republican candidates and their relationship to music: the music they like; the music they play at their events; the music that has been written about them; the music that is unfortunately associated with them. We call it Grand Old Party Jams.

In May, an unknown group calling themselves We Are Watchmen appeared and dropped a single called "Set It On Fire."


The song declares itself "all in" for Ted Cruz and his platform. "We're the greatest nation that's ever been implanted on the planet" is one of the lines.

Some digging into the group leads to their website. The group uses the slogan "Music. Message. Movement." They write:

"Just as many churches in Germany sang louder on Sunday mornings to drown out the sounds of wailing Jews in boxcars on the way to the concentration camps, the majority of pulpits and pews in the American churches have been willfully ignoring the stench of blatant evil rising in this once godly nation."

What can they possibly be talking about? Abortion and the separation of church and state, of course.

"Sixty million innocent babies murdered in the name of “women’s reproductive rights” since the passage of the unconstitutional Roe v. Wade.  Our children and grandchildren buried in 18 trillion national fiscal operating debt. Prayer banned from schools, God banned from the public square, religious liberty under attack, as Secular Humanism usurps Christianity as the official religion of the United States.  The American churches remain silent, less than 25% of the nation’s Christians vote."



Regardless of We Are Watchmen's politics, it's undeniable that they are enthusiastic about their cause. Enthusiastic enough to write a song, record and mix it professionally, and release it on YouTube for all the world to hear.


We think the song is bad. But we are laypersons, so we wanted to ask some experts what they think of the song.

Adam Bradley, an associate professor at the University of Colorado specializing in 20th and 21st century African American literature, and Andrew DuBois, an associate professor at the University of Toronto focused on 20th century American literature and lyric poetry, are the editors of The Anthology of Rap. Their complete comments are below.


Bradley: Usually these kinds of songs are cynical ploys to capture the youth vote. “Set It On Fire” strikes me as perfectly sincere—and utterly terrible. Regardless of where people stand on the political message, I’m willing to bet I can build a rainbow coalition around how awful that song is musically. The less said about the Casio-keyboard beat, the better. The bigger problem is how ill-fitted the rapper’s words are for the space they’re supposed to inhabit in the song. “Our heredity and pedigree is liberty intrepidly?”

DuBois:  I'm inclined to historicize it. There's a dope Too $hort couplet where he
says Nancy Reagan sucked his dick. I don't know if We Are Watchmen can use this in
bringing back the Future of America or the New Dawn of America or the
Contract on America or Whatever, God bless 'em.


Bradley: If I had to diagnose what went wrong here it’s that they were so intent on fitting in certain dog-whistle words and phrases that they forgot the first rule of rap: You have to flow to the beat. If you haven’t done that, then nothing else matters because no one’s even going to let the song play for four minutes.

Maybe Hillary Clinton's people produced this?

Producing terrible rap songs that support your competitors in an attempt to make them look out of touch –– not the worst strategy of the campaign season!


[h/t HuffPo]

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

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David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: david.matthews@fusion.net

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